“I think that one should view with philosophic admiration the strange paths of the libido and should investigate the purposes of its circuitous ways.” -Carl Jung
It does no good to wonder about whether you are normal sexually, yet still this is the first and primary question that plagues millions of people and probably provokes them into believing in the heteronormative qualities of sexuality, which are often taken for granted as the Holy Grail of how sex works, or at least, should work. These classic beliefs of dominance and submission, pleasure and obligation that were long ago attached to specific genders is a throwback to the Masters and Johnson information, which defined normal sexual activity for generations. This hierarchy also explains how and why, in the mid-century, Kinsey sexual studies reflected and uncovered how the truly wide range of normative sexual behavior was suppressed. In any case, our capacity for passionate human sexual contact and the accompanying healing release of orgasm is hampered by our insistence on categorizing and qualifying what is normal, even if only for ourselves.
Our collective, silent obsession with trying to understand our libido, desire and sexual passion through the narrow lens of heteronormativity dominates not only how we grapple with and suppress our sexual selves, but also what we have come to accept as the truth (capital T) about family and gender roles. These beliefs also explain some of the recent writing about how equalizing chores at home kills libido as much as not equalizing chores used to be thought the culprit. In fact, our libido and ability to respond to our sexual selves might have nothing to do with the chores we do or don’t do, but rather the narrow bandwidth of perceived normality where we get lost that is most destructive. This also explains why the most interesting ideas and real conversations about experiencing intense, unbridled passion comes from the people living outside of this ‘normality’ bandwidth, namely the gay, lesbian, transgender and queer communities.
While recent gains in marital rights are made and social recognition of these lives and relationships is building, let’s not overlook just how effortful and courageous it has been to live outside the boundaries of our heteronormative culture. Still today, millions of people around the world risk their lives to feel their sexual desires that do not conform to these rigid gender structures which define life in traditional cultures. The reason that we have so much to learn about sexuality from our friends who live outside gender normative boundaries is because there is so much more room to experiment with knowing a body, as well as a greater ability to having a direct relationship to the compass of pleasure. This is a huge leap, to transcend the weight of tradition and beliefs associated within gender behavior. Thinking bigger than the dichotomies of right and wrong, proper or improper, according to someone else’s definition of sexual satisfaction allows you to experience and live deeply and sexually in one’s own body.
This field beyond right and wrong is where passion can roam and where we can allow our sexual selves a chance to air themselves out, set its own course and frankly, surprise us. For the record, this is totally achievable in long-term heterosexual, relationships, and I am living proof. I crossed this border some 17-years into my marriage when I stopped worrying about whether my sexual fantasies were normal and no longer asked for permission to feel sexual. It wasn’t a clean break, I worried a little bit. But, I had read enough good books to know that fantasy, which turns your libido way up is a good thing, even if they contain stories that you might never live out or even share with your partner.
That said, my husband does do some chores around the house and, in general, is a reliable stand up guy who I always trust to have my back. However, his doing the dishes or not doing them has little to do with my ability to access and dive deep into my own sexual desires. His openness and curiosity (and let me be clear, lack of fear) about these wild places does inspire me to continue to explore. Getting over the fears that keep us tied to a ridiculously narrow band of normal is a decision we each make for ourselves. Making the choice to know oneself as a sexual erotic being, loving and respecting your sex drive enough to let it be abnormal in whatever way it needs to express itself. Then come back to the conversation about the chores.